Longing Long Locks? Director Nicole Russin-McFarland reveals her secrets

by Sonali Bhatnagar

Rapunzel-like hair may almost seem impossible to have if you are an on-the-go millennial.

We asked film director Nicole Russin-McFarland what was her routine to achieve the effortless rib-length strands and she was thrilled to share her secret tips for our readers.

Nicole Russin-McFarland

Claiming that the most important beauty routine of the day is getting her hair cleaned up, because, just keeping one’s hair clean is the easiest way to look better.

“It might be me washing my hair, wetting it without washing it to refresh it, or doing it in a braid. I have to tidy up my hair.”, says Nicole.

Following an intense shower routine for her hair care she explains,

“I lather once with a sulphate free shampoo. If you need an extra cleanse, you can always lather up for a second time because some people wash twice with sulphate free shampoos. I always use the matching conditioner with the shampoo set so my hair doesn’t have conflicting smells.

When I leave the shower, I spritz in a coconut mist onto my ends. If I’m out and about, I might need to spritz it again because my hair gets static with the weather.”

Protecting the hair from styling damage is a major concern for Nicole, for which she said,

“For styles, I never use heat tools. I only style my hair straight or wavy. For retro curls, I use rollers and spend time in them and only go over them a little bit briefly with a hair dryer before removing them, but I rarely wear my hair curly. I never use any gels, hair sprays, styling hold products or dry shampoo.”

And, that’s not it. Most women experience dry-ends makes them want to run to their nearest salon to chop-off the broom ponytails. But Nicole did find a way around that in her busy schedule too!

“Once every 1 to 2 weeks depending on how my ends are, I will sit with a hair mask all morning all over my head as I eat breakfast and stick around at home, showering in the afternoon. If my ends are really dry, I will add a bit of cooking olive oil to my hair after freshly applying the mask.”

20s and 30s are for experimenting and playing around with ones looks, especially when it comes to trying out new hair colours. It would sound like a huge sacrifice for some if you tell them to choose between hair colouring and long lengths. To which, Nicole’s take on this was delightfully helpful.

“A fun secret I discovered to get natural looking highlights is if you lighten your hair at home with a box dye, but you lighten it to be a better version of your virgin hair colour, so pick a hair colour box around two shades lighter because it will actually be one shade lighter in reality, very subtle. I dye my hair lighter twice a year and let my roots grow in. My natural hair colour is a really dark auburn where I have to stand in certain lighting for it to look reddish or it isn’t popping up. It’s very drab and virgin hair looking because when you get older, reddish hair colours turn into drab warm brunettes. Salon highlights can be beautiful but they always look fake. All I want is to look like I spent a lot of time surfing in Hawaii—if only I were a surfing champion!”

We asked Nicole what was the best hair advice she had ever received, to which she responded.

“A fun fact about me is when I was much younger, Marilyn Monroe’s hairdresser Mr. Kenneth in New York told me to quit making my hair jet black. He asked me what my real hair was and started giving me all this beauty advice in a scolding but nice grandfather lecture. He thought I would be really successful with auburn hair and that black hair was ageing on me, stopping me from being as successful. He thought if you stuck to a better version of you, that’s all you need. At the time, I thought he was a nice but somewhat cranky elderly man and didn’t pay attention to him; I did not know he was Marilyn Monroe’s main hairdresser either, or any of his history with old movie stars or Jackie Kennedy. I got mad because I met him with my hair freshly done from another salon and went to his salon to wash and style it. I met him a few times and he always warned me about my hair. It was funny. When he was done telling me, the first time I met him, he yelled for people to come over looking at me and how if only I changed my hair … if ONLY!”

And what did you do after?

“So, I finally listened to him after he was dead and he couldn’t laugh saying he told me so, getting my hair back out of the super black dye slowly but surely over the course of 2019. It took forever!”

Revamping one’s hair often causes a boost in confidence or energy and gives a new-feeling, and it did bring about a difference in Nicole’s life too.

She says, “I can go out without a pile of makeup on without feeling I’m going to look drab.”

“Personally speaking, why do you think hair needs extra care?”, we asked.

“My virgin hair area near the roots is fine but the lower bits of the virgin hair and my ends dry out so much! It doesn’t matter that I hardly dye it. It’s horrible, due to the weather and elements. You can’t help your hair drying out.”

After the deep dive into the secrets of growing long hair, we asked the 33-year-old what her advice would be for other women aiming for her style.

“It takes time. Know that if you dye or bleach your hair often, your hair probably won’t get long. You either have to decide if you want to be that blonde with the healthy bob hidden beneath hair extensions or go back to a pumped-up better version of your virgin hair colour. I know because I have in the past had super light strawberry blonde how enticing highlights and over processing can be. But you can get a wig for that. Maybe it’s time to embrace the more natural, beautiful you and have a lower maintenance hair colour so you get your length back. It took me from early 2019 to early 2021 to get my hair really long again but it’s worth it. If you want to change up your look, you can do that with makeup! Don’t be discouraged by having a more natural hair colour.”

So, chin up ladies. We hope you saw a glittering light at the end of the tunnel to achieve the loved-but-dreaded perfectly long hair after Nicole’s encouragement.